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Both of these new kits from Milwaukee bring their traditional toughness and function at very good prices.
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Milwaukee M12 Fuel™ 1/4” Screwdriver and ¼” Impact Sets

Cutting the cord does not mean losing power, durability or utility

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 4-2-2013

Milwaukee Tool has long been a leader in contractor-level tools designed to withstand the day-to-day use on the job. Home-based woodworkers, metalworkers and weekend DIY’ers also appreciate the dependability and versatility of Milwaukee tools. The Milwaukee M12 cordless group is just the latest in their traditionally tough offerings.

The Basics

The M12™ FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-speed Screwdriver and M12 FUEL 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kits pack a bunch of performance in compact tools. Both use Milwaukee’s POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motors that outperform the competitors with a consistent power output while running cooler with no wearable components like the older brushed motors.

That gives the M12™ FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-speed Screwdriver up to 10X longer motor life, twice as much power and double the runtime of the leading competitor. The M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver gives a motor life that is up to three times longer with twice the runtime than its competition. Also, the proprietary Milwaukee® 2-Mode DRIVE CONTROL™ gives the operator better control over the power and speed applied to make it easier to use in more situations.

Both of these kits come with two of Milwaukee’s REDLITHIUM™ 2.0 Battery Packs that deliver up to 20% more power and twice the recharges as we can expect from standard lithium-ion batteries. And to keep you apprised of the amount of charge left they include an onboard “fuel” gauge. The packs have something called REDLINK PLUS™ intelligence built in that ensures maximum performance and protection from overload, overheating and over-discharge. That results in battery packs that perform more consistently and last way longer.

Both of these tools have the LED headlight, variable speed trigger and graphical "Fuel Gauge" (left) built in. The drill version (right) has the clutch and a separate ring used to lock the clutch for drilling operations.
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M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-Speed Screwdriver Kit

This kit comes with the M12 FUEL™ screwdriver itself, two battery packs, the 30-minute charger and a formed carry case that keeps everything together and protected. The pistol-style driver has a large rubber overmold covering the grip area that makes using this tool comfortable and slip free. The variable speed trigger is easy to operate and the wide-angle LED headlight makes working in dim areas much easier. A row of LED lights just above the grip area provides a graphical indication of the battery power remaining.

The M12 FUEL™ screwdriver has an 18-position clutch that is controlled with an indexed ring just behind the ¼” hex quick-release chuck. But you can turn the clutch off for drilling operations by moving a second twist ring just behind the clutch. It has graphics that show it being set for drilling or driving screws. Milwaukee makes another version of this driver that adds a hammer drill function as well. A slider switch on top of the housing controls the dual speed range. Just above the trigger is a cross-sliding forward and reverse selector also locks the trigger when left in the middle position.

M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kit

The M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kit includes the ¼” impact driver itself, two battery packs, the 30-minute charger and a formed carry case for all of the components. The grip area has the rubber overmold for comfort and slip resistance. Just above the grip is a row of LED lights that indicate the remaining battery charge.

This impact driver is equipped with a ¼”, tool-free chuck that accepts all common ¼” hex-shanked bits. That gives you a huge selection and makes sure you are never farther than the nearest big box store from the bit you need!

The M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver also has the wide-angle LED headlight that illuminates when the trigger is pulled, then stays on for several seconds to let you get to the next fastener. While this Impact driver has no clutch it does have an easy to use variable speed trigger and a pushbutton selector for low and high range. A cross slider switch like the M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-Speed Screwdriver that selects forward and reverse with a trigger lock in the center position.

The impact driver has this (left) tool-free hex chuck that accepts a huge range of bits that are available just about anywhere. Both kits come with the 30-minute charger (right) and two battery packs!
Click images to enlarge

In the Shop

Both of these tools feel very nice in the hand. Despite the small battery and powerful motor the balance is such that you have no sensation of “holding” the motor up during use. The rubberized grip areas are virtually slip free and the trigger (and reversing) switches are located where they are comfortable to operate.

The headlight on both tools does a great job of illuminating the area around the fastener being worked with. I like that the light stays on several seconds after the trigger is released so you can locate and get on the next fastener without having to keep bumping the trigger. The “fuel gauge” lights on these tools are handy and seem to be accurate. A quick squeeze of the trigger will show if the battery should be changed before the next job and how much power is left. Throughout my testing the battery pack I charged up didn’t drop to recharge levels until the last day. I’m not sure how many fasteners that was but it was an impressive amount of use (in both tools) from one battery pack!

The overall size of the M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver camouflages the power this tool has. The variable speed/power trigger is necessary to allow the operator to drive a fastener home without stripping out the hole or snapping off the fastener. Early on when these cordless impact drivers first came out I discovered that such a small tool can easily snap off a ¼” bolt if you pull the trigger all the way and let it wail away. The M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver lets you apply the power you need and to keep the available power under control.

The tool-free ¼” hex chuck is both easy to use and rugged. The array of hex-shanked bits available today makes this a super versatile addition for any toolbox. The pushbutton 2-speed selector is also very handy and lets you change ranges quickly.

M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-Speed Screwdriver Specs
Voltage - 12V
Battery - M12 REDLITHIUM
Charger - 12V charger
Weight - 2.0 lbs.
LED Light - Yes
No Load Speed - 0-450/0-1,700
Torque - 325 in-lbs.
Chuck Size - 1/4" Quick Change Hex
Speed - 2 Speed
Trigger Lock - Yes
Capacity in Steel - 1/2"

M12 FUEL™ 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kit Specs
Voltage - 12V
Length - 6"
Peak Torque - 1,200 in-lbs.
Tool Warranty - 5 Years
Battery Warranty - 2 Years
Charge Time - 30 Minutes
No Load Speed - 0-2,650 RPM
No Load IPM - 0-3,550

The same charger comes with both tools and cannot be easier to use. Plug the charger in, plug the battery into the charger and watch the lights. The charger is fully automatic and tells you what is going on with the status light on the panel.

The battery packs have a keyed stalk-type connector that prevents crossing the connection in the tool or on the charger. The shape of the stalk makes it easy to align the battery for insertion without damaging the contacts. The small size of the battery pack allows carrying a spare in an apron pocket.

Conclusions

The M12™ FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-speed Screwdriver and M12 FUEL 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kits are both well-designed and well-built as we have come to expect from Milwaukee. These tools are tough, durable and easy to use. The fact that they come with an extra battery is another big plus.

Not long ago the ¼” size tools were more for hobbyists but with the modern motor and battery technologies these tools are very functional on professional job sites and the busiest of home shops. Add the remarkably sane street prices of just $169.99 (4-2-2013) for the M12™ FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-speed Screwdriver and $169.99 (4-2-2013) for the M12 FUEL 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kit and these tools are looking better all the time.

Video Tour

 

If you like the freedom of cordless tools on you job site or in your shop, take a look at the M12™ FUEL™ 1/4" Hex 2-speed Screwdriver and M12 FUEL 1/4" Hex Impact Driver Kits. Both are good values that help make the most of your tool budget.

See more on the Milwaukee M12 Tools System – Click Here

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